Someone posed as Ubisoft’s CEO to hijack its trademark application

February 6

(Ubisoft)

Unlike other video games straddling the line between entertainment and political commentary, Ubisoft's Watch Dogs has managed to reach beyond the typical gamer audience with a focus on NSA-style hacking and spying.

In this much-anticipated game, players become Aiden Pearce, a vigilante who uses his cyber skills to steal bank data and interfere with traffic systems in a futuristic, computer-controlled Chicago. So it's no small irony Ubisoft has had to fend off some similar mischief itself. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) revealed this week that an unknown individual posing as Ubisoft's CEO tried to take control of the company's Watch Dogs trademark application.

On Feb. 1, someone claiming to be Yves Guillemot submitted a request to expressly abandon the Watch Dogs registration. But Ubisoft never submitted anything of the sort, as a company lawyer wrote to the USPTO in a letter two days later.

"The Request for Express Abandonment is fraudulent and was not filed by Ubisoft Entertainment or its representative," wrote Joel Leviton, Ubisoft's attorney.

By Wednesday, Ubisoft had submitted a signed letter from the real Guillemot attesting that the company still wanted the Watch Dogs trademark. The USPTO has now reinstated the trademark application, citing "extraordinary" circumstances.

“The USPTO has broad supervisory authority to allow corrective action in appropriate circumstances," a USPTO spokesman said in an e-mailed statement. "In this case, for example, the express abandonment was voided after the applicant came forward and indicated that the signature on the express abandonment was not genuine.”

It's still unclear who may have tried to wrest the trademark from the gaming company. A spokesman for Ubisoft did not immediately return a request for comment.

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post.
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Brian Fung · February 6